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An epic hackathon with students from City College Plymouth

Screenshot 2024 03 19 At 11.12.46

by Swati Patel

Discover how we’re empowering students, fostering creativity and building digital skills for the future.

There are so many ways to help young people gain the experience, knowledge and skills they need to have a successful future. 

As part of TPXimpact and HM Land Registry’s (HMLR) social value strategy and in line with The Social Value Model - GOV.UK, we are supporting programmes aimed at closing the digital skills gap and helping HMLR-led community projects. This has led to us hosting a hackathon at City College Plymouth, where 12 students came together to put themselves to the test and improve their knowledge and abilities.

Setting the scene

Ant Byrne, Principal Product Manager (Delivery Manager at HMLR) kicked off the hackathon with an incredible ball-point game. The objective of the game was to pass as many tennis balls through the team in two minutes and to stick to the rules provided. Through this icebreaker, the students learned about self-organising teams, personality traits, team dynamics, and how to leverage these to improve their teams.

What immediately struck us was the energy the students showed on this challenge and how they could efficiently work together. Each of them understood how critical it is to work together. One of the lessons learned was that all processes have a natural velocity. To speed things up, it is often not a case of working harder or faster but of changing the process. There was also a no blame culture, which is so important in any setting and especially the working environment.

Finding solutions through passion and creativity

For our hackathon session, we worked with 12 students aged between 17-18 years old, who were split into four groups. We came prepared with a feature brief that focused on understanding a real current problem for HMLR. Their mission was to design innovative technology solutions to address one or more of the issues faced. This brief was an opportunity for students to engage with a real life challenge facing a high profile government agency and to positively influence its future work.

After a day of teamwork building, collaborating with peers and problem solving, the students presented their solutions to four HMLR judges. The judging criteria were focused on creativity and innovation, technical feasibility, design and user experience, presentation quality and project completeness. Each group was excellent demonstrating all of the skills above and made it a tough task to choose a winner. In the end, two teams came in joint first place!

Inspiring students with digital skills

Through this incredible partnership, the hackathon for City College Plymouth was a great success. We are on the path to inspire the next generation and close the digital skills gap by giving students an opportunity to showcase their technical and design skills, build their resumes and go beyond just concepts and building prototypes. Hackathon sessions provide this opportunity to them, helping to equip young people with real-world skills that they can take with them throughout their working lives and that may be vital to their futures.

Securing more social value

By fostering a shared vision to deliver successful social value outcomes, we’re securing more workshop sessions and making impactful contributions to society. This not only facilitates positive outcomes in local communities but also encourages a continuous development mindset. 

Social value should not be treated as a one-off checkbox but as an ongoing commitment to drive lasting positive change. We will continue to work with City College Plymouth and build on this partnership to deliver more sessions to their students in the future. 

In summary, all of us had a fantastic time and left with a massive sense of fulfilment knowing that we did something great and hopefully inspired the students to consider roles in tech. We would highly recommend anyone interested in supporting young people whether that's through career sessions, coaching, mentoring etc to get involved with this or similar events.

A Collaborative Session With City College Plymouth, HMLR And Tpximpact

"What can I say bar thank you, which does not say enough. The students came back buzzing and the speakers really resonated with them. It was fun, and gave them a real problem to solve, allowing them to truly experience the problems that businesses face. “It was amazing to see them all running up to me going ‘Gemma, Gemma we did... and .... they could not wait to tell me ....’ We would love to allow the students who did not get a chance this time to also have a go and if any of your staff would like to come and give a talk we would be thrilled to have you" - Gemma Lane, Computing Programme Area Manager, City College Plymouth

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Swati Patel

Social Value Lead

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